Trump Turns Down Putin Request To Interrogate Obama’s Ambassador

President Trump has rejected Vladimir Putin’s Monday proposal that Russia be allowed to interrogate several US citizens, including former US Ambassador to Russia and US-Russia “reset” architect, Michael McFaul, in exchange for allowing US intelligence officials to observe interrogations of 12 Russian intelligence officials indicted last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to Axios

It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt. -The White House

Trump’s rejection of Putin’s offer came minutes before the Senate was expected to rebuke the president for considering Putin’s request, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a Thursday afternoon of the nonbinding resolution presented by Democrats. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was “going to meet with his team” regarding Putin’s Monday idea. 

Putin is certainly no fan of McFoul. One week after the tenured Stanford political scientist’s September, 2011 appointment as President Obama’s envoy to Moscow, “Putin declared that he would return from the shadows and run for President again in March, 2012,” according to The New Yorker.

In the three months between McFaul’s appointment and his arrival in Moscow, a great deal changed. Putin, feeling betrayed by both the urban middle classes and the West, made it plain that he would go on the offensive against any sign of foreign interference, real or imagined. A raw and resentful anti-Americanism, unknown since the seventies, suffused Kremlin policy and the state-run airwaves. –The New Yorker

After the ill-fated “reset” between Washington and the Kremlin, Putin publicly accused Hillary Clinton of giving the “signal” to launch the Bolotnaya demonstrations between 2011-2013 in protest of fraudulent Russian elections. 

McFaul was also accused of trying to push various Western causes, meeting with some of the best-known figures within human-rights circles as well as leaders of various government opposition groups. 

Soon after McFaul’s January 17, 2012 arrival in Moscow, several organizers and prominent participants of the ongoing protests met with McFaul at the US Embassy in Moscow – meetings which drew unwanted media attention in Russian media – which branded the encounters as “Getting Instructions in the US Embassy.” 

In other words, McFaul was accused of coordinating with anti-Putin / anti-Government protesters. 

McFaul’s visitors included Oksana Dmitriyeva (deputy head of A Just Russia), Lev Ponomarev (human rights activist of the Moscow Helsinki Group), Boris Nemtsov (leader of the People’s Freedom Party at the time; assassinated in 2015), Sergey Mitrokhin (leader of Yabloko party), Yevgeniya Chirikova (member of Strategy-31 and Khimki forest activist leader), Lilia Shibanova (head of the GOLOS Association elections monitor group) and Leonid Kalashnikov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. 

Putin had publicly accused Hillary Clinton of giving “the signal” that sparked the Bolotnaya demonstrations. He was also familiar with McFaul’s biography—his long-standing relationships with liberal activists, the shelf of books and articles he’d published on democratization.

McFaul was nervous about these meetings, but, he said, “I was the democracy guy, so we went forward.” The visitors to the Embassy included some of Putin’s fiercest critics, and, after their session with McFaul and Burns, representatives of state television lobbed accusatory questions at them as if they had just received marching orders for an act of high treason.

That night, Channel One, the biggest television station in Russia, turned its rhetorical howitzer on the new Ambassador. Mikhail Leontiev, an acid-tongued conservative who hosts a show called “Odnako” (“However”), declared that McFaul was an expert not on Russia but on “pure democracy promotion.” In the most withering tone he could summon, Leontiev said that McFaul had worked for American N.G.O.s backed by American intelligence; he had palled around with anti-Kremlin activists like the “Internet Führer,” Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader who had, damningly, spent some time at Yale. (The listener was meant to interpret “some time at Yale” as roughly “some time inside the incubator of Russophobic conspiracy.”) Leontiev also noted that McFaul had written a book about the Orange Revolution, in Ukraine, and another called “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin.” –The New Yorker

No wonder Putin wants to have a word. 

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